Use slow cooker when you need dinner fast

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

It's summer, and that means baseball and softball games nearly every night of the week. Trying to keep up with each child's schedule, I find myself turning to quick recipes. Sometimes that includes the slow cooker. I have pulled out several slow-cooker recipes to share with you today.

Tangy Pork Chops

4 pork chops, 1/2-inch thick

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 medium onions, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 large green pepper, sliced, optional

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 beef bouillon cube

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

Hot cooked rice

Place chops in slow cooker; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the onions, celery, green pepper and tomatoes. Combine ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and bouillon; pour over vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Mix cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into liquid in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until thickened. Serve over rice.

Sweet and Sour Ribs

3 to 4 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs

1 (20-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, undrained

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

1/2 cup thinly sliced onion

1/2 cup thinly sliced green pepper

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Place ribs in an ungreased slow cooker. In a bowl combine the remaining ingredients; pour over the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until the meat is tender. Thicken the sauce if desired.

For a large gathering, try this delicious ham recipe which could easily feed 18 to 20 people.

Elegant and Easy Ham

2 cans (20 ounces each) sliced pineapple

1 fully cooked boneless ham, about 6 pounds, cut in half

1 jar (6 ounces) maraschino cherries, well drained

1 jar (12 ounces) orange marmalade

Drain pineapple, reserving juice; set juice aside. Place half of the pineapple in an ungreased 5-quart slow cooker. Top with the ham. Add cherries, remaining pineapple and reserved pineapple juice. Spoon marmalade over ham. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or until heated through. Remove to a warm serving platter. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serve the pineapple and cherries with the sliced ham.

Fruited Chicken

1 large onion, sliced

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1/3 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup dried cranberries, regular or orange flavored

Hot cooked rice, optional

Place onion and chicken in a 5-quart slow cooker. Combine the orange juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, orange peel and garlic; pour over chicken. Sprinkle with apricots and cranberries. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or until chicken juices run clear. Serve over rice, if desired.

I hope these recipes come in handy. The slow cooker is a great kitchen tool when time is at a premium and you still want to have dinner as a family. Have a wonderful week and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at smcclanahan@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

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